Proper Care of Silver Jewelry

I mostly work with sterling silver, one of the most beautiful and lustrous of all metals. But lets face it. It tarnishes. Especially when exposed to salt air, lotions, perfumes, sweat, hard chemicals or cleaners. There are ways to prevent tarnish from happening and, with proper care, your silver will retain its beauty and life for many years.

Let your skin dry

Two mistakes when getting ready are applying body lotions or spraying perfume or hairspray with our jewelry on. Avoid this at all cost. It will not only tarnish your jewelry, but it could also ruin it. Change your morning routine allowing lotions and perfumes time to dry before adding your accessories.

How to clean your silver jewelry

If your jeweler of choice (a.k.a: ME) lives far away and she can’t professionally clean your AWL jewelry for you (for free), then grab a Tupperware, fill it with warm water and add 4 drops of Dawn dish detergent. Soak your jewelry and clean it using a soft toothbrush. Rinse well and dry with a towel. When at home, always wash your silver by hand with a mild detergent. Never ever use bleach, sulfur, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals unless you want ruin your jewelry.

Polish with a jewelry cloth and the original luster will pop out again. Fun fact:  I include complimentary silver cleaning cloths in all my online orders!  If your jewelry is scratched from normal use, the polishing cloth will only enhance these scratches. If these scratches are too deep, take the piece to your jeweler for some TLC.

use warm water, soap and a toothbrush to clean your jewelry.

Use warm water, soap and a toothbrush to clean your jewelry at home.

Oxidized Finish

Some jewelry has been purposely given an “oxidized” finish. Excessive cleaning will remove the blackening given to silver object to make its decorative details stand out more clearly. Be especially careful when cleaning these pieces, as you could remove the details completely. If you do, you know where to find me! 🙂

Silver teardrop earrings with oxidized finish.

Silver teardrop earrings with oxidized finish.

Storing Silver

Once cleaned and polished, silver must be kept dry and properly stored. When you come home from a long day, don’t just take your jewelry off an leave it laying around for days, as it will speed up the tarnishing process. Put it back in the cute AWL box it came in (or in your own jewelry box) and it will protect it from abrasion and offer a degree of tarnish prevention.

AWL jewelry in cute boxes.

AWL jewelry in cute boxes.

If you threw the cute box away (I know you didn’t but lets pretend), put it in your jewelry storage box. You don’t have one? Put it in a baggie. No baggie? A cheap and fast solution is buying a thin plastic tackle box. It not only keeps your jewelry properly stored, but you’ll be more organized and less prone to losing and earring. Works wonders.

Remember, If you don’t want to do all of this, I got your back. I offer FREE cleaning and jewelry maintenance for all my Always With Love customers.

Love,

AWL

Making a Mold

Thanks to my dad, I am a huge Star Wars fan. I remember him bringing the betamax movies home and watching them all day long. Today, I don’t watch them as much, but I still love the characters especially the Storm Trooper.

Since my husband also likes the movies I decided to make him a Storm Trooper pendant to wear with a leather necklace. I liked the end result so much that I needed to make more. I didn’t wan’t to do all the melting, pouring, rolling, cutting, soldering, filing, sanding, and polishing all over again (especially for multiple pieces) so, to make my life easier, I made a mold. Let me show you how.

1. First, gather the basics. Silicone mold rubber material, aluminum frame and plates, brass sprue, and your piece of jewelry.

I like this one, it feels like silly putty.

2. Cut two layers of silicone, and insert them one at a time inside the frame until you have filled it to the middle. Press the sprue in the center edge, making sure it touches the frame. Press the pendant into the silicone rubber and also make sure it makes contact with the sprue.

3. Cut two more layers of the silicone and place them on top of the piece, making sure every corner is covered. Add the top aluminum plate and place it in the Vulcanizer for 1 hour 15 minutes at 300 degrees F.  It’s 15 minutes per layer, but I always leave it a little longer.

waiting…

4. Let it cool. Open the frame, take the mold out and cut it open with an X-acto knife.

mold cut in half

5. Inject the mold with injection wax, as many times as you want to replicate your item.

wax injection model

6. That’s it! It’s ready for casting. The time it takes me to make 20 pieces using this technique is the same time it would take me to make just one piece from scratch!

prototype and wax model

Molds can last many years. Proper storage in a well ventilated area will preserve your molds for over 30 years. Neat huh?

It takes a lot to make hand made jewelry.  🙂

AWL

Making Filigree Earrings

It’s earring making time again.

Since I am in tutorial mode, I decided to document the fabrication process so sit down, relax and enjoy the picture show.

Materials  and some tools I used:

File
Filigree wire
Easy silver solder
Flat and round nose pliers, flush cutters
Brass brush
Soldering station (torch, propane, oxygen, the works).
2 Swarovski 6mm channel set crystals

Instructions:

1. Cut 2 pieces of filigree wire to measure 3 3/8″ long with flush cutters.

20120427-224516.jpg

2. File both edges flat to remove the grooves the flush cutter left behind.

3. With a ring mandrel set the center of the wire on the size 10 mark and bend wire so that the joints touch.

4. Flux, and “easy” solder the joint. Quench in water and Pickle.

5. Re-shape it with the mandrel and flat nose pliers. Give it a nice teardrop shape.

6. Make 3 coils for each earring turning the wire as snug as possible.

7. Now make 6 round jump rings. Close 4 that will be soldered into the earring and leave the remaining 2 open.

8. Solder the parts together and pickle.

9. Using a brass brush in a mandrel, carefully clean between the wires. Clean in the ultrasonic for 2 minutes.

10. Attach the stones using the remaining 2 jump rings… and voila!

Double Bezel Ring

On a rainy Sunday, I started to mess around with some leftover 14 gauge round silver wire I had in my drawer.  I rounded it twice against a steel ring mandrel and when I looked at it, something clicked in my head and that’s when I new exactly what I wanted to do.

I took two oval cabochons, one amethyst, the other blue topaz, and made silver bezels for each of them. For the bezels I used flat 20 gauge sheet and 18 gauge square wire to make a seat for the stone.

I soldered the bezels into the ring, not as easy as I thought it was since everything has to line up perfectly and the heat of the flame tends to move things when you least expect it.

Once the soldering was over, I pickled and removed the flux and oxidation.

Then I sanded the silver with 220, 400, and 600 grit sand paper. I placed the stones in the bezel just to see how it would look. I can’t set the stones until the piece is polished thoroughly.

I pre-polish using brown tripoli and do my final polish with yellow rouge.

finished ring

I set the stones… and voila! It’s done.